Monday, 3 December 2012

EAL & Reading Conference notes 2

The second workshop I attended in Naldic's EAL & Reading conference was run by Mr. Manny Vazquez from Hounslow Language Service and called 'Reading across the secondary curriculum: developing the reading skills of advanced learners of English.
Mr. Vazquez explained that there were 3 ways to support advanced bilinguals' reading skills; helping students read for meaning and read at length; the notion of re-visiting the same text in different ways and for different purposes; making students aware of the underlying knowledge structure of the text they are reading.    

To develop reading for meaning, it is important to create a context to make sure pupils have some knowledge of the subject matter. In this case we looked at a similar picture without captions and we had to discuss and guess in groups what the picture could be about. Then we were told what the passage was going to be about. Mr. Vazquez divided the class into groups of 4 or 5 and asked each group to come up with 8 words they thought would come up in the passage. He collected the vocabulary and dealt with any words which may need clarification. He then brought the list down to possibly no more than 16 words. He asked each group to come up with 3 questions that they think this text will answer. While listening to the questions, if one group had a similar question, he left them out. Finally, he handed out the text. In the first reading, he told us to skim read very quickly and to highlight any of the words we could find from our vocabulary list. In the second reading, he asked us to re-read, looking to see if the questions we generated in our groups were answered. 

The notion of re-visiting the same text can be done in different ways;
We looked at the different pictures of the same person and we had to guess who that person was using these pics as clues. In this case the person was Neil Armstrong. The task was to write about him. In order to do that he showed us the examples of starters and got us to decide which ones were interesting, which ones were blend.
We, then, had to focus on words and colloqations. To extend the vocabulary, we had bingo cards to put the definitions next to the words. We did paragraph sequencing, sorting and ranking the paragraphs. We also discussed if Neil Armstrong was famous, successful or both. 

These strategies can be used to make students aware of the underlying knowledge structure of the text they are reading;
We started with a discussion of 'Can you be successful and not famous or vice versa?' We were given flash cards which we had to read and rank them from the most famous to the least or the most successful to the least. Afterwards we compared our group results with others and discussed in the whole class. Before writing the whole task, it's important to make students aware of the nominal groups (noun phrases) to help with their writing. In addition, for EAL beginners, sentence makers and writing frames can be used.